In this second post regarding the business case for your BPM project, I want to address the finesse that needs to accompany the fundamentals discussed in the first post. What do I mean by finesse? I mean the kind of reflecting, thinking, speaking and acting that breeds success. However, I want to broaden the view you maintain so that granular successes are matched by strategic successes.
Future-pacing your decisions so that business scenarios involve a long-view is a rare skill. Few do it well. Try anyway. Are your long projections always going to remain accurate? Of course not but it is worth the effort. “What if these changes came to pass? Who would be affected by what and how would they be affected?” This is a test in contingency planning. Let me give you a brief and silly example. I got my haircut this weekend in a salon that instituted a new business process and business rule at their registers. Customers paying with credit and debit cards could not leave tips electronically. How efficient! When I returned from the ATM a few blocks away with cash for a tip, I asked the stylist what the impact of this new policy and procedure was and he shared that, across the company, employees’ take-home tips were down 50-75% and many were leaving the company. ‘Nuff said.
When you establish estimates for such things as benefits and ROI, use real examples. I want you to try something here, folks. Network with people in your field. Network with suppliers and customers. Talk to them. Ask for real-life examples of how changes impacted their operations and their bottom-line. This is the research part. This approach provides you with evidence rather than promises. “If it worked over there and most of the conditions are similar and other factors can be controlled, then we can be reasonably confident that it will work over here.” I am over-simplifying but suffice it to say that real examples supported by real data from your (or a related) field is best when making the business case for business process change.
This is especially true in the case of automation. Do not build your business case on the back of a vendor’s marketing promises. Conduct scripted scenario-based demos, visit their customer sites (scripted questions in-hand) and make a lot of phone calls validating how their system ACTUALLY works. Ask their customers for data. For example, if a software vendor’s claims processing system is supposed to improve auto-adjudication rates from 50% to 95%, what was the actual outcome in at least 3 operational sites? Are the numbers you get reliable?
Your due diligence and the vetting you do will establish you as a serious manager and leader. If you’re too attached to your BPM project and try to push it through with faulty business assumptions, you may get your wish and all the accountability for the results. Don’t just trust your hunch. Plan for broad-based contingencies and gather as much data from outside your organization as you can.